By Kirsten Bokenkamp
During his campaign, President Obama said “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” As individuals, we need to internalize this, and act on it. This is the last blog in the Green-up Your Life! series, a series dedicated to the many ways we, as individuals, can reduce climate change.
Unfortunately, the environmentally-friendly changes to our daily lives is just the first step to securing a livable planet for future generations. In addition, we must demand that our government adopt laws to protect our planet. While the science behind climate change is well established, our leaders will not act until we make them. The importance of government action to combat climate change was made clear in a recent Washington Post op-ed by Mike Tidwell titled To really save the planet, stop going green. In the op-ed, Tidwell argues that “going green” is tricking many people into actually thinking that there is major change happening, when in reality, only a very small percentage of people buy compact florescent light bulbs and fuel efficient cars, have a compost pile, and eat vegetarian diets, etc. “Going green”, in effect, is creating a false impression of change, which is actually hindering the real process of change. If we care, we should adopt a “green” lifestyle and incorporate the above activities into our lives – but doing all of these individual things does not dismiss us from taking political action to demand large-scale change.
What does this mean for us? It means learning the details about climate change legislation, and calling/writing/visiting our state and federal representatives to demand that they take action. Not sure what to ask for? Here are a few things to get you started:
• A bill that achieves emissions cuts of at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80-95% by 2050 (right now, the Waxman-Markey Bill cuts emissions by only 4% of 1990 levels. Unfortunately, the Waxman-Markey Bill deceptively uses 2005 levels, and thus the 17% reduction in emissions seems to be near the scientific requirements. But, as Congress well understands, the rest of the international community and climate scientists use 1990 levels as their base. Thus, the 17% emissions cut at 2005 levels turns out to be only 4% of 1990 levels, a number far from minimum 25% necessary to save our planet.)
• Stopping the construction of new coal plants.
• Increasing funding for renewable energy and creating green jobs
We all have the tools and knowledge necessary to create change on a personal and political level. The next steps are advocacy, action, and maintenance. We are facing a huge crisis, and taking only small and popular steps are not enough. Obama said it himself – we are the change that we have been waiting for. So let’s do it!
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.